Parature for Facebook, a very good start for Social Support Communities

I am in Las Vegas for a couple of days at the Parafest ’10 conference, here to speak about Social Support Communities.  One of the key announcements came in the form of a new product, Parature for Facebook.

What is Parature for Facebook?

First, it is in beta, not fully released, but is due out in June. The folks at Rosetta Stone did a demo of the integration during the opening session and they will be rolling it out to their customers prior to the official release.  While it did not work bug-free, it worked well and the value of this solution is clear.

If you are a Parature customer the integration begins with downloading, via the Facebook store, and installing, to your fan pages.   While we did not go into details about the configuration it sounds straightforward, selecting keywords, permissions, etc.

Your Facebook fans will see a new support tab on you fan page where they can search for answers to their questions about your products and your services.  They can also enter tickets, see responses, all from the comfort of the Facebook fan page interface.

Okay, okay, you’re not yet impressed, I know… I see that look on your face…. Let me continue.

The Facebook support tab is purely a front-end to the full Parature software application.  Knowledge base searches happen directly against your ONE knowledge base, there is no need to create multiple articles.  The same thing is true for tickets, which leads to another benefit….

Your customer service reps never have to leave their familiar user interface, their support portal.  They process tickets there and the responses are automatically visible within Facebook.  Nice, both sides of the relationship benefit from never having to leave their familiar user interface.   Nice.

What’s missing then?

Parature has done a great job here and I tip my hat to them.  However, here are a handful of tips that I would ask Parature, and all of you, to consider:

  • From a mindset perspective there is education needed.  Parature spoke of this as addressing the CMOs question about a companies Facebook strategy.  Facebook is simply a channel, don’t focus on having a Facebook strategy, focus on having a customer success strategy.
  • Facebook is but one social community and there are clearly many, many, more.   Twitter has more than 11 million active users (110+ million registered), YouTube, Flickr, and yes, even MySpace.  The power of meeting customers where they are begins with actually meeting customers where they are.  This is a great start but far from the end.  These plug-ins are needed for the other major communities as well.
  • Measurement, analytics. Your customer support organization must have data to assist them in making the right decisions and executives need data to understand how their investments are doing.  Channel level information is critical and an area that Parature must do much more work to make this solution valuable in the long run.
  • Search.  Customer service agents define keyword searches to define which customer conversations are tracked, which are visible in their consoles.  Keyword searches are a good start but it’s important to dig into sentiment analysis techniques to further define which conversations get the attention of busy customer service representatives.  I would look to partnerships, or acquisitions, to round out these capabilities.

That’s all for now, talk soon.

John

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Filed under: Social Strategies, Social Support Communities Tagged: CRM, Social Strategies, SSC
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